Thursday, October 28, 2010

DIY Shoulder Rig For $80 and Hoodman Loupe Modification Tutorial

Recently, IndieBudgetMovie left a very nice comment on my youtube video illustrating how to modify a Hoodman Loupe using a Delkin Pop-Up Shade so it can be attached directly to the LCD on your DSLR. If you haven't seen my Hoodman Modification Tutorial, and aren't happy with your LCD view finder and how it attaches, check out the tutorial above.

In any case, it turns out IndiBudgetMovie is a master of DIY as well, and put together this awesome video showing off an adjustable shoulder rig he made for $80 using a drywall square. What's great about this build is that it can easily be adjusted to fit many different types of shooters and styles. I've seen a lot of shoulder stabilizers built from PVC, which works well, unfortunately, once all the parts are connected, it can't be easily adjusted. This rig looks very solid, and not to difficult to build.

Combined with the Modified Hoodman Loupe, this will look like a pretty professional rig, and will be very functional. IndieBudgetMovie says he's going to try out my modification, so maybe he'll put together a follow up video. I'd be excited to see someone else using the modded Hoodman Loupe.

To date, this makes two people I know of who have used my tutorial to ditch the rubberbands, and secure their view finders in a better way.

I'm glad to see other people benefitting from it. After all, that's why I made the video in the first place.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Figuring Out Time Lapse Photography

Inspired by Philip Bloom, and many other renowned DSLR cinematographers, I decided to purchase and intervalometer, and give Time Lapse photography a shot. Using the affordable and simple to use, Aputure Intervalometer, I've run a few time lapses to try and figure out the best camera settings. Here are the results so far.

This first time lapse was recorded looking out over the Hudson River from Northern New Jersey. I used my Canon Rebel T2i, set to AV mode (Aperture Priority) with the intervalometer set to capture a 2 second exposure every 1 second. Because it was simply a test, and I am impatient, I only left the camera running for about 30 minutes. You can see me jumping through the frame checking the camera, as I wasn't really sure what I was doing. For a first time lapse, it didn't come out too bad. You'll have to excuse the quality, as I just uploaded the Quick Time videos for the sake of this blog posting. Once I get the hang of it, I'll post a proper video.

This Time Lapse was recorded from my window in Greenwhich Village. Again, I set the T2i to AV mode, and the Intervalometer to take a 2 second exposure every 1 second. However, because it was a night time shot, the camera automatically changed the exposure speed to compensate, so in reality, it was closer to a 4 or 5 second exposure per picture. The flickering green light is the faulty street light outside my window, and not an effect of the time lapse. Neither of the above videos were color corrected or edited in any way.

I definitely need some more practice, but here are my thoughts so far.

  1. Knowing your math is important. How long you leave the camera snapping photos will depend on how long you want the final time lapse to be. Here's a quick example. If you want a 10 second time lapse, at 24 frames per second you will need to take 240 pictures. If the exposure of each picture is 2 seconds, you will need to wait 480 seconds, or 8 minutes. Doing the math will help you use your time more effectively.
  2. Different exposure times give different effects. Short exposure times seem to give a more choppy look to the footage, where as longer exposures give a smoother dream like look. Then again, this will also vary based on what your shooting. If an object is moving quickly, a fast exposure may be the only way to capture it.
  3. AV mode has it's ups and downs. Currently, AV mode is the best way to control photo exposure on the Canon DSLRs. It's only draw back would seem to be that it will automatically change your exposure time, despite what you set your intervalometer to. This means calculations discussed above may be useless as exposure times may change mid shoot. That being said, AV mode readjusting shutter speeds will most likely save a time lapse from being ruined by an overly dark, or overly light photo in the sequence.
  4. Practice and Patience are key. Philip Bloom makes time lapses look easy, but in reality, there seems to be a lot of luck in making them look good. With enough patience and practice, you should begin to understand how to get consistently good shoots, but because lighting conditions are always subject to change over time, it's a bit of a coin toss.
As I get more comfortable shooting time lapse, I'll post some tips and guides I find useful. However, at this point, I'm still figuring things out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Run a Dual System Film Shoot

I was recently asked to edit footage filmed using a dual system setup (video and audio recorded to two seperate devices). Recording audio seperately from video is one of the best ways to increase production value, but only if it is done properly. Based on the material I was asked to edit, I realized some people may know what is needed for dual system recording, but don't know what steps to take for their efforts to be effective. With that in mind, here is a quick guide on how to run a dual system shoot. Getting the best quality is a discussion best left for another post, this is simply a Dual System Recording for Dummies Guide if you will.

The most important thing to remember when using dual systems is that you need to record a visual AND audio cue in order to sync audio and video in post production. We've all seen behind the scenes footage were a crew member calls out the scene and take number, and proceeds to slam the gate on the clapper. This way the editor has visual data to connect to audio data. In the footage I was given, a clapper was clearly labeled, and used properly, only no one on set called out the scene or take number, meaning the audio files have no discernable information. They only have a clap, and the line reading, making it nearly impossible to match them to the video.

Another key step is making sure your camera and audio recorders, are recording audio at the same bit rates. If your camera records audio at 44.1bits, and your audio recorder records at 48bits, you will get what is called drifting in post production. Drifting is when your audio and video are in sync at the beginning of a take and drift out of sync by the end of it. this is because your audio and video are playing back at two different rates. The numbers above were just examples, as these numbers will vary based on the equipment your using. For more information, refer to the owners manual for your gear.

These are essential steps to follow. If they are ignored, you could have the best quality audio and video imaginable, but they will be nearly useless, as syncing them up in post production will be near impossible.